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Give Credit Where It’s Due: Kickers Are People, Too

Photo by: USA Today

Kickers are just as important as any other position in football. A team will look to them for crucial points in a tight game or a game-winning kick in the final seconds. If there is one thing Who Dat fans know is that the kicker position is like a revolving door, especially in the Sean Payton era. Since 2006, the Saints have had nine different kickers take part in a regular season contest. Not to mention numerous candidates that tried to earn the coveted spot during training camps.

When you think back to mid-1990s and early-2000s, a field goal was practically automatic. Once you hear the name of a guy like Mike Vanderjagt, John Kasay, Adam Vinatieri, Matt Stover, Jason Hanson, Morten Andersen, David Akers, just to name a few, it was almost certain that the ball would go through the uprights. Nowadays, even an extra point attempt is no longer a sure thing and could potentially be a turning point in a game.

As far as the Saints are concerned, having a kicker that is consistent has been an Achilles heel for quite some time. Garrett Hartley has been the only kicker to play in a game for at least three consecutive seasons. He played from 2008-2013, with 2011 being his only missed season due to a hip injury. The fans will never forget Hartley’s name ever since he made the game winning kick to send the Saints to their one and only Super Bowl appearance. Unfortunately for him, inconsistent struggles had him out of a job and now is no longer in the league.

Now we come to present day where the Saints are on an 8-game win streak, putting up on average 35-plus points per game. But if you look even closer, there has been one player who has been a pivotal contributor during this streak and no one is even talking about him. Of course, I am speaking on behalf of kicker Wil Lutz. Since joining the team in 2016, Lutz has quietly become one the most consistent kickers in the NFL.

Wil Lutz Stats Through Week 10:

  • 19/20 FGs (95%) 33/34 XPs (97.1%)

  • 90 points scored – Leads all kickers; 2nd overall behind Todd Gurley

  • 39 Touchbacks – 3rd Best amongst kickers

  • 86.7% career field goal percentage

  • Top 10 in scoring including this year

To think, Lutz was trying to earn a spot on the Baltimore Ravens roster knowing they had the current field goal percentage leader in Justin Tucker and he ends up with the Saints right before that season. If he continues on this pace for his career, Lutz could give Tucker a run for his money but more importantly become the first Pro Bowl kicker for the Saints since Morten Andersen in 1992. Nevertheless, we can say with confidence: IN LUTZ WE TRUST!